n a Friday morning, the New York Philharmonic began a concert with a new clarinet concerto. There are hundreds of clarinet concertos, with new ones being written all the time. And yet when we think “clarinet concerto,” we’re apt to think “Mozart.” The Philharmonic programmed a concerto by Unsuk Chin, a Korean composer who has long lived in Berlin. She studied with the Hungarian master György Ligeti.

In the Philharmonic’s program notes, Music Director Alan Gilbert said, “There’s something so unique about the way she combines traditional sounds and instruments to create something utterly fresh and modern, while at the same time staying true to her cultural heritage.” By “cultural heritage,” I take it Gilbert does not...

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